21 October 2016

AUS: From Concern to Exemplar – Collins Class Submarine Sustainment

Minister for Defence Senator the Hon Marise Payne, the Minister for Defence Industry, the Hon Christopher Pyne MP and the Minister for Finance, Senator the Hon Mathias Cormann have congratulated the Collins Class Submarine Sustainment Program at ASC, following an independent follow-up review on the progress made in addressing the findings of the original 2012 Coles Review.

Minister Payne said the follow-up review, Beyond Benchmark (PDF), completed by Mr John Coles found a remarkable improvement in the capability to successfully manage the sustainment of the Collins Class submarines.

“The review considered current Collins Class sustainment performance, plans for sustaining Collins performance during transition to the Future Submarine, and opportunities for improving Collins beyond international benchmarks,” Minister Payne said.

“Improvements to the availability and reliability of the Collins Class submarines means that they can spend more days at sea conducting exercises and operations that directly contribute to our strategic defence capability.”

USA: US, UK, Japan Navies Commit to Increase Cooperation

From Chief of Naval Operations Public Affairs

WASHINGTON (NNS) -- Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Adm. John Richardson met with First Sea Lord, United Kingdom Royal Navy, Adm. Phillip Jones and Chief of Staff of the Japan Maritime Self-Defence Force, Adm. Tomohisa Takei, Oct. 20, in the Pentagon.

This is the first time the three chiefs have held such an event. Given the increase in maritime traffic worldwide and current events, the symbolism of this engagement can't be overstated. 

The result of the half-day session was the signing of an agreement affirming their commitment to increased collaboration and cooperation. The agreement states "As Chiefs of three highly capable and like-minded Services, we share a common vision of enhancing the operational effectiveness of our maritime forces through increased cooperation."

The U.S., Japan and U.K. navies have regularly operated together off East Africa, around Europe and in the Western Pacific, however they agree there is room for more. The three chiefs of navy agreed to deeper cooperation in exercises and an increase in combined patrols, with specific activities to be worked out in follow-on discussions. 

Each navy is committed to an open and free maritime system that allows for the flow of commerce and trade through the global commons. Continued trilateral engagement and cooperation is in the interest of each individual country and the overall maritime community. 

Link to text of 2016 Trilateral agreement.

USA: Face of Defense - Petty Officer Serves U.S. Military, Philippine Homeland

By Marine Corps Cpl. Carl King, 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force

Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Jose Antonio, a native of San Jose, Calif., and a biomedical technician with the community health engagement group attached to Bravo Company, 9th Engineer Support Battalion, 3rd Marine Logistics Group, 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force, poses for a photograph while supporting Philippine Amphibious Landing Exercise 33 in Cagayan Valley, the Philippines, Oct. 10, 2016. (Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Allison Lotz) >>

SANTA ANA, Philippines, Oct. 20, 2016 — Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Jose Antonio, a corpsman now attached to the community health engagement group in Cagayan Valley, the Philippines, is happy to be back in his homeland.

“I was originally scheduled to go to South Korea for some training,” he said, “but then I was told it was possible I would be going to the Philippines, and I was pretty excited.”

Antonio was assigned to support Philippine Amphibious Landing Exercise 33, an annual U.S.-Philippine military exercise that combines amphibious capabilities and live-fire training with humanitarian civic assistance efforts to strengthen interoperability and working relationships between the two nations.

USA: Assistant Secretary Russel To Travel to the Philippines, Thailand and Cambodia

Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel R. Russel will travel to the Philippines, Thailand and Cambodia, October 21–28.

Assistant Secretary Russel will travel to Manila, the Philippines, October 22–25, to meet with government officials and have lunch with Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) participants.

In Bangkok, Thailand, October 25–26, the Assistant Secretary will convey his condolences on the passing of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej and meet with Thai officials to discuss bilateral relations and regional issues.

In Phnom Penh, Cambodia, October 27, he will meet with government and opposition party officials, civil society organizations, and address a group of YSEALI members.

News Report: India-US Howitzer Deal Stuck Again, Needs to Clear Another Hurdle

India plans to deploy the M777A2 howitzers along the India-China border.

New Delhi (Sputnik) — The purchase of BAE's M777A2 lightweight howitzers for the Indian Army needs to clear another hurdle with certain new purchase condition.

Sources from India’s Defense Ministry told Sputnik that the Defense Acquisition Council (DAC), the apex body that takes the final call on purchase of defense equipment has approved the deviations in the earlier approved purchase plan and now it will be referred to the Cabinet Committee on Security for financial clearance. 

Sputnik had reported on August 25 of this year that India seeks a second extension of the deadline for the deal that was to be signed before September 5 if India was to purchase the guns at the original price quoted by BAE. According to sources, BAE has demanded a 10 percent increase in price if India chooses to sign the deal after the September 5 deadline. The original deadline for signing the deal was August 5 which the US had extended by one month following a request made by India. 

Informing the Parliament in July this year, about the status of the deal, Manohar Parrikar, India’s Minister of Defense said, “Acceptance of Necessity (AoN) has been accorded for the procurement of 155mm / 39 Calibre Ultra-Light Howitzers from USA under US Foreign Military Sales route at an approximate cost of USD 737 million.” 

The deal had not progressed since 2012 due to cost issues and because the BAE had not been able to come up with a proposal fully complaint to the offset requirements.

This story first appeared on Sputnik & is reposted here with permission.

News Report: US, Japan, South Korea to Hold Maritime Drills Off Jeju Island on Weekend

Image: Flickr User - U.S. Pacific Fleet
The United States, Japan and South Korea will hold trilateral military exercises at sea, near South Korea's Jeju Island on Saturday and Sunday, local media reported.

TOKYO (Sputnik) — According to the Yonhap news agency, the drills will involve the interception of ships, as well as search and rescue operations.

South Korean ship Yulgok YiYi will be engaged, along with Aegis Combat System, a Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter, an USS McCampbell destroyer, an USS Tippecanoe ship, an P-3 Orion aircraft, a Sikorsky MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter. Japan will send an Ariake destroyer, as well as a Sikorsky H-60 copter. 

Since early 2016, the Korean Peninsula coast has witnessed multiple military drills, held under the auspices of the United States. The drills come amid tensions generated by the North Korea's nuclear and ballistic missile tests conducted despite UN Security Council resolutions. 

On Monday, media reported, citing a North Korean official, that Pyongyang was ready to carry out a preemptive nuclear strike against the United States if Washington mobilized its nuclear forces against the country. 

North Korea has been under pressure from the international community since a nuclear test and the launch of a long-range rocket in January. On March 2, the United Nations adopted a resolution 2270 that tightened sanctions against Pyongyang.

This story first appeared on Sputnik & is reposted here with permission.

News Report: Tokyo Expresses Protest to Pyongyang Over Info on Failed Missile Launch

The Japanese government expressed its protest to North Korea over its attempt to conduct a missile launch, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Thursday.

TOKYO (Sputnik) — Earlier in the day, the US Strategic Command said it had detected an unsuccessful missile launch by Pyongyang on Wednesday evening.

"We have not detected any objects flying toward Japan. There have been no events posing an immediate threat to the security of Japan," Suga said at a press conference, adding that Tokyo had expressed "a decisive protest to North Korea through diplomatic channels in Beijing." 

North Korea has been widely criticized by the international community for its tests of nuclear warheads and missile launches. 

The current report by the US Strategic Command comes about a week after its previous announcement regarding another failed test by North Korea of an intermediate-range ballistic missile. 

In September, Pyongyang exploded a nuclear warhead, which became the largest blast North Korea had had since it started to develop nuclear and missile programs. 

In January, it detonated a hydrogen bomb.

This story first appeared on Sputnik & is reposted here with permission.

News Report: Philippine President's Pivot to China Just Words — So Far

Steve Herman

STATE DEPARTMENT — American officials say they have gotten no formal notice from Manila following Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte's announcement of a "separation" from the United States.

"We have not received any official requests from Filipino officials to alter any of our many issues where we bilaterally cooperate," White House spokesman Eric Schultz told reporters.

"It is inexplicably at odds with the very close relationship that we have with the Filipino people, as well as the government there on many different levels, not just from a security perspective," said State Department spokesman John Kirby. "We are going to be seeking an explanation of exactly what the president meant when he talked about separation from the U.S."

The State Department said Assistant Secretary Daniel Russel would visit Manila from Saturday through Tuesday. Kirby called the trip a a "long-scheduled, long-planned" visit.

Following high-level talks with Chinese leaders in Beijing, the Philippine leader — earlier in the day at a business forum — announced "my separation from the United States, both in military, not maybe social, but economics also."

The remark to the crowd of business people and Chinese officials triggered a roaring round of applause.

"America has lost now. I have realigned myself in your ideological flow, and maybe I will also go to Russia to talk to [President Vladimir] Putin and tell him that there are three of us against the world: China, Philippines and Russia," Duterte added. "It is the only way."

The radical foreign policy shift by the leader of a longtime U.S. ally in the Pacific will not throw off course America's pivot to Asia, Kirby insisted, but he noted "many nations in the region are concerned and baffled."

News Report: Duterte Announces Philippine 'Separation' from US

William Ide

BEIJING — In what could be a serious setback for Washington and its pivot to Asia, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has announced his country’s “separation” from the United States, following high-level talks with Chinese leaders in Beijing.

"In this venue, your honors, I announce my separation from the United States, both in military, not maybe social, but economics also,” he said, speaking at a business forum late Thursday. His remarks to the crowd of business people and officials triggered a roaring round of applause.

"America has lost now. I have realigned myself in your ideological flow, and maybe I will also go to Russia to talk to Putin and tell him that there are three of us against the world, China, Philippines and Russia. It is the only way."

In his speech, Duterte also called Americans “discourteous people” who are too loud for Asian sensibilities. He said he likes China because it does not go around insulting people.

Chuckling as he spoke, Duterte said that now he was separate from the United States, he would also be dependent on China for a long time.

In Washington, the White House said it has not received any officials requests from Manila to change cooperation between the two countries.

News Report: Duterte Visits China to Try to Heal Old Wounds

China rolled out the red carpet for Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte as he met with Chinese President Xi Jinping to try and improve years of rocky relations between the two countries.

Xi greeted Duterte Thursday with full military honors at the Great Hall of the People, China’s main legislative building in Beijing.

The two leaders are set to sign several new agreements following discussions Thursday that Xi said are meant to “fully improve” relations between China and the Philippines after disputes to Chinese territorial claims in the South China Sea.

Earlier this year, an international court ruled in favor of the Philippines in a major arbitration lawsuit regarding the South China Sea territory, and since then Duterte has been trying not to further damage relations with China while at the same time working to secure his country’s territorial claims.

Prior to the initiation of discussions, the often outspoken Duterte said he would not bring up the topic of the disputed territory unless Xi brought it up first, calling it a “courtesy” to his host.

“As a matter of courtesy and in the Oriental way, you always wait,” Duterte said Wednesday. “Because I am a visitor, I can't destroy the goodwill by just blurting out something.”

Xi didn’t specifically mention the South China Sea dispute during the discussions, but he called China and the Philippines brothers and said the two countries could find appropriate resolutions to their disputes.

This story first appeared on Voice of America & is reposted here with permission.